TIFF 2013: For me, it all starts tomorrow morning …

TIFF Bell Lightbox at night_large

Tomorrow (Friday) morning, my colleague Jared Mobarak and I head north, and get started with day one — for us — of the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. Three days seems sad when compared with all of the treats offered over the festival’s 11 days. Today, alone, sees screenings of “The Fifth Estate,” “Blue is the Warmest Colour,” and “The Past,” among others, three movies I will miss.

But I am thrilled to be able to attend at all, and it’s one of my most eagerly awaited events of the year. Leaving my family for a few days is difficult, but I always have a thrilling experience. Although I wish it was going to be cooler outside …

This year, I will be writing reviews for Indiewire’s The Playlist (they already have one ready to go from me, and I hope to file three from the fest) and The Film Stage (I have filed two, and will likely be writing one or two more). I will also be Tweeting and posting on FilmSwoon’s Facebook page. I will be writing on this site as much as I can during the festival, although it is likely the majority of my TIFF writing here won’t take place until I return home. Lastly, as I have for the last six years — this is my seventh festival — I will cap it all off with a feature in the November issue of Buffalo Spree.

It does not appear that I will be doing any interviews while I’m there, which actually makes the whole process much easier. Instead, I’ll be watching, writing, waiting, and, occasionally, sleeping and eating.

I have public tickets for two films: Catherine Breillat’s “Abuse of Weakness” and John Ridley’s Jimi Hendrix biopic “All Is By My Side” (I also have tickets for Francois Ozon’s “Young and Beautiful,” but a conflict has developed, and I’ll likely miss it.) And I am supposed to have a ticket lined up for a very special screening on Sunday night: Godfrey Reggio’s “Visitors,” accompanied by members of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

The rest of my lineup is comprised of press screenings, and what makes those particularly exciting is the sheer unpredictability of it all. I have never NOT gotten into a press screening, since I tend to arrive early, but this year could be different. There are several “priority” screenings that I may or may not gain admittance to, and there are also some I will certainly arrive to later than I’d like. Plus, I don’t know exactly what time we are arriving tomorrow, or leaving Sunday night.

Anyway, here are the films I MIGHT be seeing — and it’s a stellar, albeit offbeat, list.


  • I will likely start with the documentary “Jodorowsky’s Dune,” or, if I’m too late, the Cannes hit “Omar” or James Franco’s “Child of God.” (In a perfect world, I’d be able to catch “Like Father, Like Son” at 9 a.m., but that should prove impossible.)
  • Next up is one of my great TIFF conundrums: Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day” or Jia Zhangke’s “A Touch of Sin.” I lean toward Reitman in this case. Yes, his Joyce Maynard adaptation will be opening wide, but not until Christmastime, and it could be an Oscar player. “Sin” will be much more difficult to see … But I’ve been intrigued by “Labor Day” from the get-go. (Other options at this time are Ralph Fiennes’ “Invisible Woman” and Ron Howard’s “Rush.)
  • Now, things get even trickier. If I decide to try to attend the 6:30 priority press screening of “Prisoners,” I may not have time for a film in between — I am interested in both “All Cheerleaders Die” and “Letter to Damascus,” but wedded to neither. And if I miss “Prisoners,” my early evening options are limited at best. To make matters even more difficult, “Prisoners” opens in just a few weeks! But it is the best option at the time, for sure.
  • However that turns out, I will end the night by meeting Jared at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for “Abuse of Weakness.”


  • How the day will begin remains to be seen. My No. 1 goal is to get into the priority press screening of Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave” at 9:30 a.m. Doing this means arriving early, and missing the morning’s other offerings, which include “Parkland” and “Attila Marcel.” If for some reason I do not get in, I may try to force my way into “Hateship Loveship” or “Horns” a few minutes late.
  • “Slave” should keep me from seeing “Dallas Buyers Club” at 11:30, unless I am able to sprint from the McQueen (it runs to 11:43 a.m.) and grab a late seat. It is more likely that my second film of the day, then, will be “Palo Alto,” Cold Eyes,” or “Bad Words” (another priority screening).
  • Next? I may have time for the acclaimed “Miss Violence,” but either way, I have a must-see (I am reviewing it) at 3:45: “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.” After the Idris Elba-starrer, I’ll take a break and do some writing, before ending the day at the Elgin with …
  • “All Is By My Side,” starring Andre Benjamin as Hendrix. An interesting day, to say the least.


  • First film of the day? I have not yet decided between Daniel Radcliffe in “The F Word” and Elisabeth Olsen in “Therese.”
  • But I am certainly seeing “Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner’s “You Are Here” at 11 a.m. It stars, oddly, Owen Wilson, Zach Galifianakis, and Amy Poehler.
  • I am reviewing “Here,” so I plan to give myself a bit of time afterwards. That means the middle of my day is seriously up in the air. I am interested in Eli Roth’s “The Green Inferno” at 1:30, Ciaran Hinds in “The Sea” at 2, and Keira Knightly and Mark Ruffalo in “Can a Song Save Your Life?” at 2:15, but my likely play is to wait and catch Woody Allen in John Turturro’s “Fading Gigolo” at 3:45.
  • As long as the ticket comes through, “Visitors” at the Elgin is next. I’ll be working on my review of that film on the drive home, and perhaps the following morning.
  • Jared and I debated public tickets for “Night Moves” at 9, but as long as we still have the stamina, I’d like to end my TIFF13 experience with as wild a pick as possible: South Korean “Pieta” director Kim Ki-duk’s “Moebius.”

That’s how things may, or may not, shape up. Adding some screenrs I was able to watch online (and more I may watch next week), it’s a helluva year. And while I am missing some biggies, like “Gravity” (it screens in Buffalo soon), “Under the Skin,” “The Double,” “Only Lovers Left,” and many others, I am satisfied with my options.

If there is one thing I’ve learned, it’s that you can’t see ’em all.

Much more to come, here, on Twitter, on Facebook, and beyond. Happy TIFF!

Photo Credit: Maris Mezulis for TIFF